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Hotels and the Homeless - Los Angeles Business Journal

Ray Patel isn’t too happy with the Los Angeles City Council’s decision to present voters with a ballot measure that would call for the city’s hotels to make unsold rooms available to the homeless.

As the owner of the Welcome Inn in Eagle Rock, he wants voters to take action.
“We don’t think it offers a solution for the homeless community, whatever the intent,” said Patel, president of the Northeast Los Angeles Hotel Owners Association.

The Los Angeles Responsible Hotel Ordinance will be introduced before voters at the March 5, 2024 primary election.
Mark Davis, CEO of Sun Hill Properties, owner of the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City hotel, said while he was happy with the council’s decision, he would not be disappointed if the bill passed. said its biggest concern was the health and safety of its guests and employees. Because the hotel and its staff have no control over who gets the room and have no way of knowing what hygiene issues they may introduce.

“We give them our hearts, but we don’t think this is the solution,” Davis said.
Los Angeles Hotel Association spokesman Peter Hillan was also pleased with the council’s decision to take the proposal to voters.

Hiran said the association is sympathetic to the plight of the homeless and has supported many solutions.
“However, we believe this needs further consideration and the Council has reached that conclusion,” Hillan added.

Congress could have passed the bill directly, but instead passed it on August 5, 12 to 0, and put the bill to a vote. The initiative is supported by Unite Here Local 11, a hospitality workers union. Hillan said members of the association would consider campaigning against the bill.

The action is in stark contrast to what the council did in June when it passed the Workplace Safety, Workload, Wages and Retention Measures for Hotel Workers Ordinance signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti on July 7. was.
As with the current ballot measure, the workplace security initiative was backed by Unite Here, which gathered enough signatures to get it in front of voters.

But in that case, Congress decided to pass the ordinance directly. The ordinance gives security protections to hotel housekeeping employees and raises the minimum wage at additional hotels in the city.


If approved by voters, the latest ordinance will require hotels to accept vouchers from unprotected persons for stays of up to several nights in unused rooms.

The proposed law states that “empty hotel rooms offer an underutilized opportunity to address the problem of homelessness.” “The ordinance creates a program for the city’s housing department to identify hotels with vacancies, refer unhousing families and individuals to such hotels, and pay them fair market prices for lodging.”
Patel’s big concern lies in the wording of the initiative.

“So if someone gets hurt, I don’t know who is responsible. I don’t know who is responsible for the damage to the room,” he added. It’s also unclear if the voucher he’s staying for one or more nights or longer, he continued, Mr Patel.

The lobby of the Hilton Universal City Hotel.

Additionally, unlike Project Roomkey, a federally funded program, where hotel owners voluntarily provide rooms for the homeless to stay in while they wait for permanent housing, this initiative , gives no direction as to what social services, such as mental health, can be provided to those who are not detained. Or help with addiction.

At Universal Hilton, hotel occupancy rates are 98 percent year-round, so participation in the program will be low from the start, Davis said.

Still, if the ordinance is passed, Los Angeles hotels will have until 2 p.m. to estimate the number of unused rooms available to the homeless.

“You should be able to predict what it will look like at 2 p.m., but that’s frankly impossible,” Davis said.

The hotel, which is adjacent to Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park and City Walk, is in high demand, he added.
“Sometimes 30 to 40 people show up and walk in without a reservation,” says Davis. “A lot of people make plans later in their trip, or they say, ‘Let’s go to Universal today,’ and they head there.”

These examples make it difficult to predict how many rooms will be available at the end of the day, continued Davis.

“extra burden”

Hotel Association’s Hiran said the ordinance includes a number of processes that place an “undue burden” on hotel owners and operators and their employees.

For example, how do you assign hotel rooms to individuals in need of shelter? Another is how to set prices to compensate the hotel given that pricing is based on seasonality and demand.

On the issue of how social services are provided and liability to unprotected individuals in need, Hillan said, “There was a lot that was not made clear to hoteliers. ‘ added.

Davis asked what happens to the homeless after the voucher is used and expired.
“We are very concerned about what will happen once the voucher is completed, as well as the voucher system entering them next to minors and children who may bring sanitary issues into the hotel. ” He said.

“Who gets them and who carries them to their next home? Most of these homeless people have no transportation and nowhere to go.”